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The flesh on the tip of my finger presses softly against the translucent button reading 5. The button lights up, and the 5 is now filled with a vibrant yellow. Ting- the door of the lift opens and I step into it, the fan as always is on. Let the world implode the switch is too far.

The lift interestingly is absolutely disconnected to both time and distance. You can never tell what its speed is. You never know how much distance you’ve covered in it. So, the doors close slowly and the lift moves down. In, a few moments there’s another ting and a 4th floor neighbour steps in. A 40 year old Santa Clause like man, smelling of a number of mangled rose-bushes with a mile-long greedy smile. He steps in and the lift sinks a couple of centimetres. Then after a long wordless smile he says, “Hello beta”, “Hello uncle” I say with a half smile, like a shy bride, “How are you?” I’m 20 minutes late for College, my attendance is 60%, I have to meet the Vice-Principal at 2, genuinity in it, but I say “I’m good uncle”. Acquired reflexes, phew. I’m more than sure that I was inaudible when I said those words, but he doesnt pry, he knows the script too, he looks infront and after 10 seconds of silent relief he turns back and says,”How is everything at home”. Yes, he knows the script very well infact. We’re on the third floor. After hearing his question my mental problem solving session takes a break and there’s a smile on my face for precisely 2 seconds till I finish answering his question with a “good”. The 2nd floor comes along, the lift stops again, the 2nd floor is usually the time when he would be asking me “How is Papa/Mama?”. Luckily the lift stops; thankfully, so does the conversation.

A maid enters the lift, she walks into the corner of the lift, with a hunchback, and a presence that would equal a cat’s in a lion’s cage. The neighbour watches her from the corner of his eye in utter disgust. A moment passes and giving the expression of a man who had tried his best to supress his emotions, he bursts out,”I don’t understand why YOU PEOPLE dont understand that there is a staircase for the servants? This bloody watchman is also of no use!.”

I remember a couple of nights ago, a dinner, where this same person was talking about the difference between Pakistan and Amreeka (The Pakistani synonum of America). He was telling my father how Amreeka had ‘dignity of labour’ and how in our country we could still not manage to respect the lower classes. It was irony at its best. It was discrimination at its subtle best. It was inhumanity manifested into its most socially acceptable mould: Class. The maid gets off on the next floor. I cant bother about that; I have a test today. The uncle looks at me and tells me how ‘these people’ will never learn. I still dont bother I have an important test. Then he tells me something about these people dirtying the lift in a desperated attempt to gain empathy. I understand, not that I care, I have a test. “Chalo beta bye” he smiles at me I’m glad its over I have a CHEMISTRY TEST FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. He finally leaves and now I can comfortably study. I sit in my air-conditioned car, tell my driver to drop me to the station fast, because I am late, and repeat to myself-

The flesh on the tip of my finger presses softly against the translucent button reading 5. The button lights up, and the 5 is now filled with a vibrant yellow. Ting- the door of the lift opens and I step into it, the fan as always is on. Let the world implode the switch is too far.

The lift interestingly is absolutely disconnected to both time and distance. You can never tell what its speed is. You never know how much distance you’ve covered in it. So, the doors close slowly and the lift moves down. In, a few moments there’s another ting and a 4th floor neighbour steps in. A 40 year old Santa Clause like man, smelling of a number of mangled rose-bushes with a mile-long greedy smile. He steps in and the lift sinks a couple of centimetres. Then after a long wordless smile he says, “Hello beta”, “Hello uncle” I say with a half smile, like a shy bride, “How are you?” I’m 20 minutes late for College, my attendance is 60%, I have to meet the Vice-Principal at 2, genuinity in it, but I say “I’m good uncle”. Acquired reflexes, phew. I’m more than sure that I was inaudible when I said those words, but he doesnt pry, he knows the script too, he looks infront and after 10 seconds of silent relief he turns back and says,”How is everything at home”. Yes, he knows the script very well infact. We’re on the third floor. After hearing his question my mental problem solving session takes a break and there’s a smile on my face for precisely 2 seconds till I finish answering his question with a “good”. The 2nd floor comes along, the lift stops again, the 2nd floor is usually the time when he would be asking me “How is Papa/Mama?”. Luckily the lift stops; thankfully, so does the conversation.

A maid enters the lift, she walks into the corner of the lift, with a hunchback, and a presence that would equal a cat’s in a lion’s cage. The neighbour watches her from the corner of his eye in utter disgust. A moment passes and giving the expression of a man who had tried his best to supress his emotions, he bursts out,”I don’t understand why YOU PEOPLE dont understand that there is a staircase for the servants? This bloody watchman is also of no use!.”

I remember a couple of nights ago, a dinner, where this same person was talking about the difference between Pakistan and Amreeka (The Pakistani synonum of America). He was telling my father how Amreeka had ‘dignity of labour’ and how in our country we could still not manage to respect the lower classes. It was irony at its best. It was discrimination at its subtle best. It was inhumanity manifested into its most socially acceptable mould: Class. The maid gets off on the next floor. I cant bother about that; I have a test today. The uncle looks at me and tells me how ‘these people’ will never learn. I still dont bother I have an important test. Then he tells me something about these people dirtying the lift in a desperated attempt to gain empathy. I understand, not that I care, I have a test. “Chalo beta bye” he smiles at me I’m glad its over I have a CHEMISTRY TEST FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. He finally leaves and now I can comfortably study. I sit in my air-conditioned car, tell my driver to take me to college fast , because I am late, and repeat to myself-

WE, THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN, having solemnly resolved to constitute Pakistan into an Islamic Democratic Republic;

Pledged to remember the Quaid’s vision, respect the sacrifices of our predecessors.

Pledged Unity, Faith, Discipline.

Pledged Equality, Liberty & Fraternity.

“If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor… you are free- you are free to go to your temples mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state… in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to Muslims- not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual- but in a political sense as citizens of one state”  Quaid- e- Azam’s Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Karachi August 11, 1947

I yell at my driver. I have a test Goddammit, can’t he drive any faster?

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